Posted on 6th April 2020 by Jon Terry

Writing the Perfect CV

Writing the Perfect CV

A lot of people might have a little more time on their hands than they expected this Easter. And given current circumstances there is a chance that they might be thinking about their future career in a way that they haven't done for a while. 

If you are one of those and are digging your CV out of hibernation then perhaps you might benefit from our advice and guidance on writing the perfect CV....

Everyone out there has an opinion about CVs and what they should look like and what they should say. Some consultants even seem so confident about those opinions that they want you to part with cash so they can tailor the perfect CV for you. We have a pretty simple theory that actually only 3 people will read your CV and as long as you can appeal to all 3 of them in the right order you should be doing OK.

Player 1: The Adminstrator

Picture the scene. A job is advertised on a variety of job boards, retweeted and shared on linkedin. With the economy still being tough there is a good chance that a number of people are interested and suddenly there are 50+ responses to that advert.

In all likelihood the Recruiting Manager is not going to sit and shortlist all 50+ CVs in a methodical manner. What is more realistic is that they are going to pass those CVs to someone and ask them to “whittle them down to 10-12 for me to look at tonight”.

We think that person will initially read through those CVs looking to de-select rather than select.

  • This is the person who needs you to say “I have been working for a dynamic and entrepreneurial business of c180 staff. The business has doubled in size in the last 5 years and has a turnover of £13m.” (or similar)
  • This the person who may not know that is actually a FTSE 100 business 
  • This is the person who needs to know that although your job title was HR Specialist you were actually reporting direct to the Chief Executive.

So make sure that you give them the context that they need to make sure they can “recommend” your CV and with confidence.

Player 2: The Line Manager

This is the simple one.

This is the person who will be reading your CV as they prepare for your interview.

They want to know what you did on a day to day basis and they want to understand what major projects you dealt with.

They will possibly want to use your CV as a prompt during your interview and scribble down some questions to ask.

So make sure you give them the details that they need.

Player 3: The Money

You got through the shortlisting and got an interview and the Line Manager likes you. The job is almost yours!

But before you get to draft your resignation letter someone might look at your CV and sit and work out that they are going to need to pay you your salary, add you to the pay roll, pay your NI contribution and pay the Recruitment Consultant who arranged it all.

  • This is the person who wants to know that in your last role you reduced recruitment costs by £300k in a 6 month period.
  • This is the person who is going to be impressed that you delivered a major corporate project £25k under budget and as a result Sales rose by 0.3%.

So think about that and make sure that you tell them what you did and quantify your successes. Don’t tell them that your key achievement is reducing absence “significantly” tell them how much by and what the benefit to the business was.

They are more likely to put pen to paper and sign off your salary of £35,000 if they feel that if you can have half the success you had at your current/previous employer where you made savings of £100,000.

Things to Consider

If you did this for every job you had then your CV could be 5 or more pages in length and could bore the pants off of everyone who comes near it.

  • This is where you edit and tailor that CV for each job that you apply for.
  • This is where you decide that what is an important achievement for one job that you apply for is less important for another.
  • Cut, paste, edit and amend to your heart’s content just keep a track of who has got what CV and make sure you prepare for your interview with the right CV!

Your CV is your CV

  • So make sure that you don’t take my (or anyone else’s) advice verbatim.
  • Write a CV that you feel comfortable with it and are happy to justify in interview.

Find a Trusted Advisor

  • Find someone who knows you and whose advice you trust.
  • Get them to read your CV and ask them if they think it explains who you are and what you do.

And remember...

If you are reading this and are a HR professional looking for a new job then let us have a copy of that CV! It might be quiet at the moment but it will bounce back!


Jon Terry

By Jon Terry

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